By Christian Hince | December 5, 2023
The University at Albany dominated their last 20 minutes of basketball Saturday, Dec. 2, en route to an Albany Cup victory against the Saints in front of a crowd of 1,626.
The Great Danes pose with the Albany Cup itself after Saturday’s win.
Photo Credit: Brent Warzocha/UAlbany Athletics
Siena was right there through the first half, controlling the game’s pace and taking advantage of a Great Danes team which was a little antsy during their Broadview debut. “We were really playing frenetically there, and they were speeding us up, we were turning the ball over,” UAlbany head coach Colleen Mullen said. “We knew we needed to kind of get the jitters out, it's the Albany Cup.”
The Saints led 31-30 at one point in the second quarter and trailed 37-36 at halftime after an Aniysha Jackson half-court shot banked in at the buzzer. UAlbany had no intentions of letting this play turn into long-term momentum coming out of the break.
“We just went in the locker room and just said ‘We got to stay together and continue to play our pace,’” Great Dane guard Kayla Cooper said.
UAlbany scored the last 12 points of the third quarter to go up 57-44 heading into the final period and a ten-point run in the fourth put the game out of reach at 69-52 with four minutes left. Third quarter foul trouble certainly helped the Great Danes’ third quarter surge, with the Saints’ racking up seven across the period.
“Once they got in foul trouble, we really just pounded it inside with our high-low game, and they really didn’t have an answer for that,” Mullen said.
Four of UAlbany’s starters scored in double figures. Cooper had 13 points and seven rebounds, Helene Haegerstrand had 13 points and four boards, Sarah Karpell had 11 points and a team-high four assists, and Lily Phillips had 11 points, including a 3-7 mark from three. Starting freshman center Deja Evans came close to a double-double with eight points and a team-high 10 boards.
With Mullen’s program traditionally having emphasized experience, she’s proud of Evans for stepping into her role, saying “[she] has so much experience and so much room to grow.”
The UAlbany bench outscored Siena 20-11. Freshman guard Abby Ray was a spark from outside the starting five, scoring six points on three separate back-door cuts in the second half. “It's huge, having bench players coming in like they do and just take over, be confident, bring the pace up, get stops,” Haegerstrand said of Ray’s role on Saturday.
As a team, the Great Danes outshot Siena 53.7% to 41.2% and outrebounded them 36-21. The Saints, who are now 2-3 and riding a three-game losing streak, are missing a level of identity according to head coach Jim Jabir. “Last year, we were a great rebounding team, and this year, I can't give you a really great answer,” he said. “I think there's a certain physicality that we need to establish and maintain.”
UAlbany also out-assisted Siena 17-6, something which Mullen felt demonstrated great chemistry. “We're making the extra pass, we're playing unselfishly, and that's the only way to play,” she said. “That's a great brand of basketball to watch.”
The women’s Albany Cup victory also came on a day where UAlbany’s football team advanced to its first FCS quarterfinals appearance ever and a fourth-straight win by the men’s basketball team in Broadview, matching their longest streak in four years. “I mean, what an amazing experience, and credit to the administration today,” Mullen said.
At 5-2, the Great Danes face Central Connecticut State on the road Wednesday, Dec. 6, before coming back to Broadview to play Marist on Saturday.